The Teutons make their entry suddenly upon the stage of history. Their appearance falls at the time when Rome was working out the result of its long and active life; crystallising the striving and achievements of the classical world into the form in which the culture of antiquity was to be handed down to posterity. Into this light they come, and it must be admitted that its brilliance shows them poor and coarse by comparison.
There is little splendour to be found here, it would seem.
We see them first from without, with Roman eyes, looking in upon them as into a strange country. And the eye's first impression is of a foaming flood of men, a wave of warriors, pouring in with the elemental fury of the sea over eastern Gaul, to break upon the front of Cæsar's legions, and be smoothed away in a mighty backwash of recoil. Thus, roughly, Cæsar's first encounter with these barbarians appears in the description of the great Roman himself.
And beyond this flood we look into a land, dark, barren and forbidding, bristling with unfriendly forests and spread with marshes. In it we are shown groups of men who, in the intervals of their wars and forays, lie idling on couches of skins or sit carousing noisily by daylight, and for sheer lack of occupation gamble away their few possessions; horses and women, even their very lives and freedom, down to the pelt upon their back.